I don’t have much to say about the pandemic that has not already been said, but as things start to open up again in my neck of the woods (acknowledging that they very much are not many other places, and recognizing my immense privilege here, although I suspect it might be temporary), my lasting takeaways on the entire experience thus far are:
First, that it is abundantly clear (were it not before) that we are not going to somehow manage to avoid climate change disaster at the last minute. I had previously entertained some small hope that people would band together and do what needed to be done right in the nick of time, but the extent to which everyone has managed to live in denial throughout this pandemic as well as the complete institutional failure to deal with it at every level has shown that we will indeed be every bit as fucked as it always seemed like we were going to be.
Secondly, that the reason why people and institutions can and will maintain denial in the face of catastrophe is because, unlike in popular culture, apocalyptic disasters do not occur all at once overnight with a bang. In the movies, it is very immediately clear that the old world has been obliterated, and in this way, the mandate of each individual human becomes very clear and simple: the old world is gone and not coming back, so your only goal today is to find some small animal to skewer for dinner and somewhere with an overhang to shelter under for the night. In reality, however, disasters affect different groups of people to different degrees at different points in time; they roll out slowly and inconsistently. And so, while your own personal home might be overrun by zombies, you will still be expected to pay your mortgage. Your own office branch might have been bombed off the map and reduced to a smoking crater, but the Toronto branch might yet be humming along same as ever and so not fully understand why you cannot log in to work…ever again? You might personally be at the point where you’re seeking an overhang for the night’s shelter, but you will be seeking it in a still somewhat functioning city with Starbucks that remain open and laws against camping alongside the river that are still being enforced. Etc.
So when it comes to it, it’s going to be very difficult for any of us to know how long we should continue trying our best to keep up our prior obligations and encumbrances, and at which specific point it is time to put our few belongings into a wagon and start pushing inland by foot. Most people are therefore going to continue futilely attempting to invest in the old systems long after the wheels have come off, and this is going to make fools of us all.
I rather suspect that it already is.